Half of us are in tears. Half of us are in shock. Drew Sutton looked like he was in both after his walkoff homerun to beat the Astros tonight, 8-7. The Pirates already led the National League in come-from-behind wins – add on another. Down 6-2 in the 6th inning, the Pirates showed that they never ever give up. “I just like the way we hang together,” Clint Hurdle said after the game. “We just don’t let things get too out of control, emotionally or physically.”
AJ Burnett had his worst home start of the year, giving up 6 runs on 12 hits and 2 walks in just 5 innings. That all seems so long ago now. Chris Resop, Juan Cruz, and Jason Grilli each pitched a perfect inning, and the Buccos led 7-6 going into the 9th. Unfortunately, Joel Hanrahan blew his 3rd save of the year, allowing the Astros to tie it on a Jed Lowrie walk and a Jason Castro double. Going into the bottom of the 9th, the game was tied 7-7. Hanrahan didn’t let that get him down, saying after the game, “I’m sure I’ll be out there tomorrow. You always look forward to getting back out there.”
The Pirates started scoring runs in the 4th inning on a 2-run homer by Andrew McCutchen, who now leads the National League in batting average (.360) after his 3-4 night. “I’m just ready to hit, just trying to hit my pitch and more times than none just getting my pitch,” Cutch said after the game. In the bottom of the 6th, the Pirates scored 3 runs to bring the score to 5-6 on a Casey McGehee single and a Pedro Alvarez pinch-hit 2-run single. In the bottom of the 7th, Andrew McCutchen singled with 1 out, and then Garrett Jones came up to bat. He put one out of the ballpark to put the Pirates up, 7-6. I’d like to think it made it into the river. The homerun looked to be the game-winner until Hanrahan blew the save.
With 1 out, Drew Sutton came to bat. He took 2 fastballs for a called strike and a ball before swinging at the 3rd pitch, a curveball, and drilling it to center field. As soon as he realized that pitch was gone, his face was priceless. I wish I could capture the emotion, the magic of the moment, but it’s not quite possible. I’m sure most of you saw it. If not, go find it. In the midst of a cooler on his head from McGehee and a shaving cream pie in the face from Burnett, Sutton looked like he might cry. He wasn’t quite sure what to say. A few “wow”s later, and Sutton was asked if he knew what pitch he hit. “It was a slider… man, that’s not usually where I go yard at, that’s not usually where I hit homers…” The team hasn’t really calmed down yet. Drew Sutton, a utility player, was getting some criticism for his play in right field tonight. That’s all been forgotten, and Buctown is everywhere.
The 2012 Pirates have just come together as a team so perfectly this year. Every player who was interviewed after the game talked about the way the team gets along and picks each other up.
When asked if this homer made him feel like a part of the team, Sutton replied, “I’ve felt like a part since I got here.”
“This is good teamwork, picking each other up when we need it,” Garrett Jones said. “We’re never down and out. We always have our chin high. We knew we’d get back in there.”
“They’re having a blast,” Clint Hurdle commented. “They’ve got each other’s backs and they’re having a blast. It’s fun to watch.”
It’s no secret that the season started with a lot of pressure on the pitching staff to pick up the offense. Now, with Burnett’s and Hanrahan’s struggles tonight, the tables have turned. “They’re picking us up right now,” Hanrahan said. “That’s where you need to be on a good team.”
“They [the pitching staff] picked us up first so many months of the season so I think it’s good, it’s alright that we can pick them up every now and then,” Cutch said. “This is unreal. We’re battling. We’re fighting.”
“We’re almost like a family,” Garrett Jones pointed out. “Everybody gets along, we’re always playing jokes on each other. Same attitude, winning or losing.”
Photo courtesy of @jlopesy